Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is Google Making You a Bad Cook?

Amanda Hesser has a thoughtful post on Food52 about Google’s new Recipe View function.
While Google has always favored content-rich sites, especially the ones that pay necromancers to practice the dark arts of search-engine optimization, its new recipe function also gives higher rankings to the sites that provide calorie counts, cooking times, user ratings and pictures, Ms. Hesser writes.
What this means is that Google’s search engine gives vast advantage to the largest recipe websites with the resources to input all this metadata, and particularly those who home in on “quick and easy” and low calorie dishes (which, by the way, doesn’t mean the recipes are actually healthy). In so doing, Google unwittingly — but damagingly — promotes a cooking culture focused on speed and diets.
She goes on to give examples of searches that give high rankings to ludicrous results such as a 77-calorie cassoulet and a six-minute fried chicken. The problem with Google, she argues, is that it is looking at the wrong data; if the point is to surface higher-quality results, why not prioritize things like the number of comments, Facebook likes and shares a recipes has earned? (Of course, Ms. Hesser is a founder of Food52, which features recipes, so she has a dog in this fight. So, for that matter, does The New York Times.)
Have you used Recipe View yet? Or Bing’s recipe function? Or Cookzillas?

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